A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While the movie doesn't raise profound issues, it addresses the difficulty of the teen/high school years in a way that teens can relate to. Sam's happiness is very much wrapped up in a guy.
Positive Role Models
At the film's center is a plucky teenage heroine with whom girls can identify. That said, the Chinese exchange student is reduced to a grossly offensive stereotype, and Sam's elderly grandparents don't fare much better. Jake is earnestly sweet about his interest in Sam, but he doesn't demonstrate much respect for his longtime girlfriend, Carolyn.
Violence & Scariness
Mild slapstick violence. In one scene, it's implied that a teen boy had sex with a girl while she was passed-out drunk.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens and sex are central, with lots of talk about body parts, much of it vulgar. Kissing. A shower scene shows a girl's naked torso. A high school kid coaxes a girl into giving him her panties and shows them to bathroom full of freshmen for a dollar. Drunken sex is implied.
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Some use of the words "f--k" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink to the point of passing out. Hung-over characters question whether they were intimate while drunk. A woman overdoes muscle-relaxant pills and gets completely loopy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sixteen Candles is John Hughes' hilarious '80s high school comedy that has both sharply observed moments and painful stereotypes, including a racist portrayal of a Chinese character. Although it's rated PG (it was released before the PG-13 option existed), this is an adult comedy with teen characters. The teens drink, have sex, and talk about birth control; in one scene, it's implied that a guy had sex with a girl while she was passed-out drunk. Parents may want to exercise caution with more impressionable kids, and especially preteens or younger. But this smart exploration of adolescent life will be fun for teens and adults. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This '80s film is a hair-raising tour of adolescence. Sam is a girl in the throes of her first crush, and she's desperately insecure about her body. A sublimely awkward dork dogs her heels, alternately yearning for approval and crassly propositioning her. She's infatuated with a senior god and intimidated by his goddess girlfriend.
Sixteen Candles doesn't raise profound issues or craft scenes of special beauty. However, this is John Hughes at his best; he captures the nuances of adolescent slang and recreates the little humiliations that can make teen life a living hell. It's all in the details: When Sam's grandmother checks out Sam's "perky boobies" with a squeeze, you'll wonder how anyone gets through high school.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.